The whole “there is no try” quote from Yoda has never entirely made sense to me. I’d hear it and nod slowly (trying to look wise, since everyone else seemed to get it…)
On some level, it made perfect sense. You have to decide to do something and then do it, keep at it until it’s done. You have to commit. The whole “I’ll try” sentiment often did mean “I don’t know if I can do it, I’m not sure I want to, we’ll see…”
But at the same time, I find myself trying really hard sometimes. As I’ve written before, I’ve been utterly exhausted by it, in fact!
My inner dialogue has often been:
“I can’t do this! I’m not [insert qualifier here – smart, good, skilled, educated, pretty, funny, etc…] enough!”
“But I HAVE to. I have to figure this out. It matters.”
“I have to keep trying…” Sob. Feeling of defeat. Refusing to give up. Wishing it were easier. Feeling wholly inadequate and like a failure. Wanting to hide.
But no matter how I felt, I knew that my children needed me. I wanted so much for my children, for your children, for the whole world. I just couldn’t give up – I refused to fail!
So I would keep trying…
As a child and into my early adulthood, I could do anything. I was smart and creative and highly skilled at “fixing” things or pleasing people. I can’t think of anything that I tried and couldn’t do – usually, I’d end up winning awards or accolades for whatever I did. It was relatively easy. And since it was so easy, I kept expecting someone to figure out that I was really just fooling everyone. (I heard a name for this later in life – “Imposter Syndrome”)
Ironically, as I grew older, I started to figure out that the one I was trying hardest to fool was myself. I could please everyone around me, but I avoided looking myself in the eye, in a mirror. I avoided being alone or still. I would lay awake at night, my mind racing and my stomach churning. At 21, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis – a chronic auto-immune disorder. I had migraines. I struggled with stomach problems.
Seems my body knew already then, what my mind didn’t figure out for another decade or more. You can try to ignore, invalidate, suppress and avoid your self and your feelings – but they don’t ever go away. They just go underground.
But still, I managed it and I kept going. I kept trying…
One day, about a year or so ago, I stopped trying.
I still wanted to keep going, but I simply couldn’t any more. I felt like I had tried and failed too much. I had disappointed too many people that mattered to me. I had started and stopped, fallen and gotten up again.
I wanted to follow my passion – I felt the importance of what I believed in and what I wanted to do! I knew I could change the world. But how?
So many possibilities. So many places I thought I could help or make a difference. In my desire to live my passion, I wandered down many paths, tried lots of things. I hit many roadblocks – and I couldn’t figure out why?
But I feared that if I stopped trying, it meant I had given up. Or, even worse, that I wasn’t good enough. My dreams were all tangled up with trying to prove myself – never a good combination, I’ve learned!
In hindsight, this is the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far: stop trying to prove that I’m worthy. Stop mixing my motives.
It’s easy to say. But oh so hard to do!
Being overwhelmed made me stop trying to “make” things happen – I had no choice. And this has turned out to be a good thing. Fantastic, actually! Sometimes, unfortunately, I have to hit a wall before I figure out the lesson I need to learn. I really wish I didn’t, but it seems to be the way some things work for me…
So I’ve been learning to sit still, through all the discomfort and fear. I’ve had to work really hard to just do what needs to be done – the every day stuff like doing my work, feeding my kids, doing the dishes, making sure they’re clothed and have play dates and swim in the pool and read books. I’ve had to say “no” a whole lot more – to committees and ideas and opportunities. I’ve been talking with myself – whenever that “I’m not good enough” story comes up again, I’m rewriting it. If I wouldn’t say it to someone else, why would I say it to myself? It’s a much healthier lens to look at myself through.
Slowly, I’m feeling better about not trying anymore. I’m waiting and trusting that I’ll be able to recognize when I feel deeply compelled to move again. But this time, I’m not looking for what I “can” do, I’m looking instead for what I have to do. I’m watching for the alignment of the things that matter to me and that I’m uniquely positioned to bring to this world and that the world needs from me and that no one else is doing.
For now, I’m still choosing “do not.” It’s taking much more courage than I thought I had. But maybe that’s the practice I need so that I’ll be ready when it’s time to “do.”